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Let It Go

Posted 15 April 2016 / By MC / Archives/ Featured/ Miss Clariss Musings

So come on let it go

Just let it be

Why don’t you be you

And I’ll be me

Everything that’s broke

Leave it to the breeze

Let the ashes fall

Forget about me

Come on let it go

Just let it be

Why don’t you be you

And I’ll be me

And I’ll be me

– James Bay

lostatsea

I was 15 months old.

Momma says I slept through the entire thing as we huddled together in Nana’s old hall closet. We lived with her then – Momma and I.

Actually, we had lived with Nana my whole life. 412 North Mano Street. That’s where Momma and I came when we left the hospital on June 10, 1988. That’s why I call it home. And maybe that’s why I still try to crawl in the bed with Nana when I visit… because I spent my first few years sharing one with her and Momma.

Back then, Nana, Papa, Uncle Jeffrey, and Momma, they were my family. The five of us where a rag-tag gang from the start. Three generations of familial issues. A four-bedroom house full of love, and sacrifice, and secrets, and hurt, and happiness, and pain.

My father had taken off to Florida to be with his new family and to outrun the storm. Nana was in Atlanta for work. Dad was already working for a textiles company in Burlington, North Carolina. So, Papa, Uncle Jeffrey, Momma, and I took the closet.

Fifty foot pine trees toppled over around us. Walls of water and debris swirled – topping out at speeds close to 140 mph. For the first time in Santee Cooper’s history, according to representative Mollie Gorey, the company was unable to transmit power. Dan Brown stated in an article for the Berkeley Independent, “Hugo resulted in 34 fatalities in the Caribbean and 27 deaths in South Carolina, leaving nearly 100,000 homeless, and causing $10 billion in damage, $7 billion of that in the United States and Puerto Rico.” In 2014, the Post and Courier headlined a 25th anniversary piece with: “Storm that big today would be ‘total devastation'”

On September 22, 1989, Hurricane Hugo ripped through Charleston.

And as he raged on outside, I slept soundly inside… all the while falling in love with the rain.

 

I am seven or eight.

It is summertime and I am at Nana’s house. I can’t be too sure why it was dark out. Maybe because of the time of day? Or was it because of the storm?

I am laying on Nana’s bed alone – head in hands – looking out the window. Everyone else could be found toward the front of the house. They are in the living room or the kitchen. But I’m back here, sitting in the dark, listening to the rain, and missing my Momma.

That was the problem with summertime.

I spent many weeks away from Momma. Even at this age, I remember having to take a calendar and choose where I wanted to stay, “Humm, I’ll do three weeks here and two weeks there…” This carried on until my time was up.

Having to shuffle me back and forth made my father furious. He hated how I refused to spend the entire two months at his house uninterrupted. He hated how I refused to make his house a home. And I’m sure he hated how much I missed my mother.

So, I spent my days laying on beds, in dark rooms, listening to the rain… because even as a child I could appreciate the soothing sound of a storm.

 

I was 14.

Way too old to be playing in the rain.

But too young to give a shit.

I remember walking out of my father’s apartment and down to the parking lot in my bathing suit. It was mid-afternoon. He was married to his third wife. She had two young children. Maybe her little girl was with me? Maybe not.

What I do remember though?

I remember feeling water trickle down my scalp. I remember not ever getting cold – not once. I remember how the ground turned grey and black with moisture. And the rain drops bouncing off the asphalt with joy.

Low-country storms are so very much different from any other kind of storm. They are steamy. The rain is warm. Puddles feel like bath water. The sky twists and turns in anger. Thunder shakes the walls. Lightening splashes bright white across dark rooms. Azaleas, and hydrangeas, and magnolias toss their blooms around dry, sandy lawns. Pine trees and old oaks lazily stretch their limbs to accommodate hurried gusts of wind. American flags whip against tall poles. Pontoons wade in high creeks.

The air is sweet and hangs heavy in your chest. It coats your skin like melted butter. It’s salty – from the sky, from the sea, from the heat.

Low-country storms are the most romantic sort of storm you could ever get caught in. They are dark, and furious, passionate, and beautiful. Low-country storms don’t last long. They often fight with the sunlight for just a brief part of the day, and then get gone.

 

I could have been 17…

Let me preface the next few memories by saying: I used to make a habit of omitting parts of a story. Specifically, when a certain part of my story did not compliment my ex-boyfriend’s character.

Then, some could argue, the only stories I told were the ones with parts that did not compliment my ex-boyfriend’s character.

Whatever.

For those of you who really knew us – know him – you know I could have filled this entire site with some pretty juicy garbage. However, I chose/choose to keep my mouth shut. For those of you who do not really know me or my ex, but frequent this site – I think it’s fair to say I have a pretty self-deprecating style of writing. Most of my blogs are riddled with embarrassing stories told at my own expense. Not to mention, I would like to think I do a pretty accurate job of describing any given situation… despite fault or flatter, blame, right, wrong, or indifference.

Regardless, the ex had a problem with nearly everything I wrote.

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories,” I would theatrically recite to him. “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”

And then, I’d call him an asshole.

I say all of that, Ballas, to tell you this: I spent 10 years with the man.

Ten fucking years.

And as much as you probably get tired of reading about that mother fucker, I get tired of writing about his sorry ass. But ten years is a long goddamn time. Especially, when you’ve only been on the planet for 27. That’s more than one whole third of my existence! When we first started seeing each other, Nick and Jessica were still married, American Idol was the most popular show on television, and Michael Jackson was alive. Most marriages don’t even last as long as we did.

Meaning, he’s going to come up from time to time.

But.

Ohhhhh buh-huh-hut.

That does not mean I miss him. That doesn’t mean I’m slumped over in the corner of a bar somewhere, drunkenly slobbering myself, and willing that shithead to call. It doesn’t mean I want us to reunite in some ridiculous, romcom plot-fueled, second-time-around fairy-tale way that’s slightly reminiscent of one of those shitty Cameron Diaz movies. Nor, do I want any one of you gossipy assholes to call and tell that bastard every time he becomes the topic of public fodder on this super popular, super clever, internationally renowned website.

So, don’t get, like, any ideas when he’s mentioned. Okay? Just be all, “Oh. Yeah. That guy. I remember him,” and move on.

Besides, I put up with him for elevendy-hundred years so I can say whatever I want. It’s, like, my rite of passage. The first rule of First Wives Club is… well, you’re pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down, no?

Anywho, I was 17.

We had been sneaking around seeing each other for months. He had a girlfriend. Meanwhile, I was still technically dating his best friend. I was young. Okay, so, we were young. All of us were. And besides, what do you really know at 17, or 20, or 21? Nothing. You don’t know a damn thing. But back then… I didn’t know if a heavier situation existed.

I was seeing a boy and his best friend simultaneously. We would go on double dates with our “significant others” and then the two of us would meet up after. It was terrible, and exciting, and reckless, and disrespectful, and fun, and stupid.

I would lie to Momma about staying with a friend, drive over to his house, hide my car at the basement, and spend the night with him instead. The two of us would stay up until three and four o’clock in the morning just laying in the dark telling stories. We would open the windows and listen to the cows chatter off in the distance. Some nights, the moon would fill his whole room with an eerie glow, I’d snuggle in closer and imagine this was our real life – not just some made-up world we had created for ourselves.

In those days (… years [this carried on for two and a half years {shameful, I know}]), we never watched television. We never went to the movies, or out to dinner, or spent time with friends. Our time was spent talking, and laughing, and on the road, and late at night, and under the stars. Each moment was precious. He taught me to catch lightening bugs, he told me everything he knew about cars, and he rode me around on tractors as he cared for livestock.

He broke my heart a lot too.

But those stories are for another time.

There had been a cold rain on this particular night. Maybe it was fall? The cars in our driveway were dotted with big water spots. We stood toe-to-toe under my bedroom window. He was never the type to just give a hug and kiss goodnight. And I’ll never be the kind to let someone slap me on the ass and get away with it.

This was our routine. As much as it drove me insane, this was what made me fall in love with him – how much he seemed to love me.

He chased me around the wet cars for a moment. Suddenly, I was caught. He hoisted me up in the air and carefully placed me on the hood of a nearby car. I was soaked. And furious.

Naturally, he thought this was hilarious. I was a doll compared to his length and stature. My pathetic attempts at retaliation fell on a wide chest, long arms, and quick feet. He continued to pick me up and drag me along the side of my Dad’s truck, or the front of my Honda, or the door of our Suburban.

I was dripping with cold rainwater. My jeans stuck to my body and my hair curled around my neck.

I loved him.

I loved us.

 

19

I never should have let him get in my head. I never should have allowed him to guilt me, manipulate me – mindfuck me – to the point that I actually believed I owed him. I never should have drove down that goddamn mountain.

I should have told him to go fuck himself. I should have stopped my waiting and moved on. I should have walked away then. I should have known he could never, ever love me the way I deserved. I should have told Kristen.

It was pouring. It was October. It was early on a Wednesday morning and I was going to be late for a midterm.

I had to make five, six – too many times to count – stops off the side of the road to puke in the rain.

I was sick.

Sick from the winding roads. Sick from the lack of sleep. Sick from the Everclear. Sick from the choices I had made.

He made me sick.

 

24

The third blog I ever posted was Wild Ones.

After reading back through it the other day, I noticed a few things: 1. I left out one of those “pieces” of the story. and 2. I replaced said piece with some bullshit life lesson on why it’s, like, soooo totally okay to be a hot mess.

I would like to address number 2 first.

I still stand by most of what I said in the last eight paragraphs of that post. However, the tone irritates me. It almost seems subservient. It puts a bad taste in my mouth. Even as I type this, my lip is curling up and my nose is scrunching.

Women, it is okay to be a mess. It’s okay to be clumsy, and silly, and strong, and independent, and crass, and sorta judgmental. But you’ve gotta own it. You’ve got to really grab those qualities by the balls and fucking own them. Don’t be a cutesy hot mess. Be a fist-pumping, falling in the street, face against the glass, first fucking date and busting out your shirt hot mess.

Seriously, don’t half-ass this shit.

Now, circling back…

Wild Ones sorta ends with me riding the bull. That all happened. And my account of this particular situation is all very spot-on. Though, the night didn’t end there.

A few of us walked a couple blocks over to Hooter’s for dinner. It’s blurry who all went but what I do remember is eating their loaded tots for the first time, and let’s get real, that’s the most important detail to note. I also remember the boys watching basketball. So, it’s safe to say the Tarheels were playing.

After dinner, Tyler and I had planned to make the short walk back to our hotel. We made our way toward the front of the restaurant. Rain came down in sheets off the patio awning. Cars drove by splashing walls of dirty road water onto the sidewalks.

Still mostly drunk, we decided to make a run for it.

I remember us standing under a bus shelter at the corner of Trade and Tryon. I wanted him to kiss me. I was drunk and drenched. It was dark. The street lights glistened off of the wet pavement. The rain drops looked like twinkle lights against the night sky.

I never did that sort of thing. I never got wrapped up in those kind of emotions. Never, would I have asked him to kiss me. Making out on the street? In the rain? Notebook-style? That is most certainly not me. Hell, I haven’t even seen the Notebook.

He left me standing under that bus shelter alone.

I was stunned. Heart-broken. Hurt. But not surprised.

I took my time getting back to the hotel.

Because I was still drunk, I got lost and ended up a block or two down from where we were staying. By this point, the sting of his rejection had worn off. I jumped in puddles. I laughed loudly and without reservation. I held my arms out wide – collecting all the drops my body could handle. I strolled down the street with my mouth open – tongue out – lapping up rainwater.

I think back on that short snippet of my life and smile.

My first real taste of freedom.

No one knew where I was. Not one single person could pinpoint my exact location or what I was doing for those few moments in time. I could have disappeared. I could have wandered off in the rain that night, never to be heard from again.

But eventually, I looked up, saw the Flemings sign, turned the corner, and found him waiting.

 

25

I am the highway.

 

Last year.

It’s always raining now. It’s always dark, and messy, and cloudy. No shelter seems sturdy enough to keep out the moisture. Water always finds a way in – through cracks in the foundation, or the leaky roof, or an open window.

I sit on the edge of his bed. My back to him. The Super Bowl plays just a few feet away but my mind is elsewhere.

“I need a break.”

He doesn’t put up a fight. He doesn’t argue, or bicker, or swear. He doesn’t plead his case. He flatly says, “I think that’s a good idea.”

I stand to leave. He thanks me for running out to the store, for getting him medicine, for making him a glass of Ginger Ale, and for turning out the light. Unbeknownst to me, I walk through that house – what was to be our house – for the last time.

I step out into the cold winter rain.

It was done.

 

Saturday.

Kristen and Danny’s going away party started at a brewery in North Park. It moved from Hess Brewing to Seven Grand – a whiskey bar just a few blocks down.

Danny and I walked in with his childhood friend, Alex. “I’ve been to this place before,” Alex announced, “but in L.A.” Yeah. Okay, Alex. Whatever you say, buddy. Danny and I both cut him sideways glances. “No, seriously. There’s a secret bar in the back.”

Tha fuck?!

I grabbed the boys and we made a bee-line toward the back of the bar. Sure enough, ol’ Alex knew his shit. I found a light switch on the wall next to a door similar to those of the men and women’s restroom entrances. It wasn’t a bookcase or a wallpapered false wall, but I could play along.

However, before I could flip the switch, asshole Dan had his hands on the door handle and his head creepily peeking around the threshold. “Goddamn it, Dan!” I shouted. “Well, what the hell are you waiting for now? You’ve basically busted up in there,” I scolded, throwing the door open. “Hello, sir. Sorry about that,” I shot Dan another look. The maître d’ was obviously used to barbarians like us stumbling into his top-secret bar-in-a-bar all the time. He smiled and asked how many were in our party. I all but curtsied, “Three, please.” After a quick check around the small, dimly lit room, “Would you like to sit at the bar or a table?” The boys immediately started to converse amongst themselves about the other twelve-hundred people in our group.

Me, on the other hand, politely responded (without missing a beat), “A table, thanks.”

Both men stopped talking immediately and looked at me. I tossed my hair back and shrugged as if to say, “Look, peasants. Top-secret shit – totally my wheelhouse. Just follow my lead.” Danny chuckled, “A table it is!”

Whiskey, contrary to popular belief, not my wheelhouse.

Nor, is it Dan’s. And Alex bailed when we made him go back out to the regular bar to recruit more misfits from our posse. That punk wasn’t even out there three minutes before he caved and bought a beer. Maître d’ wasn’t having it (the lowly brewski, that is), leaving me and Danny to down an entire fancy flight of whiskey by ourselves.

Ugh. I still get cold chills just thinking about it. At first, we tried to sip. We tried to be classy and cool. We took turns smelling, and swishing, and tasting. But by the time we reached that Japanese shit – all bets were off. We split what was left, made silly toasts, and threw that nasty-ass liquid fire back like real men.

Class be damned!

When our waitress came over to check on us, we complimented her selections, and asked for the check.

Later, across town, I talked Kristen into moving the party from the dreaded Moonshine Flats to its sister bar – The Deck. The Deck isn’t all that much better than Moonshine’s but at least there isn’t fucking line dancing. They also have games, so that’s cool.

Our crew was pretty well lit by this point. Someone bought a round of tequila shots (a.k.a., the Devil’s drink). I think I pretended to know how to Wobble. Or maybe I was making fun of a girl with her tits hanging out? Can’t be too sure. And honestly, now that I really think about it, if the latter is true I’m a bigger asshole than I let on because I was wearing a goddamn shear top and bralette, for shit’s sake.

I believe The Deck bar closed up shop early; forcing us to head back next door. All 74 of us pushed our way to the front of the dance floor. I think I let a guy slow dance me? Or maybe slow-dance a fast song? Eww. I just vaguely remember partaking in something that sober me would totally judge drunk me for doing. And then, Danny got kicked off stage.

I can remember being really affected by that.

Why? Why was Danny kicked off stage? Was it because he was the only person up there? Was it because only those dumb whores conducting the synchronized dances were allowed on stage? Was it because he was a boy? Could I get up there?

I studied the bouncer’s face.

I wanted up on that fucking stage.

My homeboys made it happen during the second verse of Footloose. Not a jam I would have picked for my big SanD stage debut; howevs, a jaunt around stage is a jaunt around stage. Beggers can’t be choosers.

As the bar was shutting down, I remember us all sort of agreeing to meet on the sidewalk to figure out the cab situation. But as the line got closer to the door, we started to hear the sound of water sloshing around on the street and people groaning about the weather. Once outside, the doormen refused to let anyone stand against the building and wait for cars. I looked up and didn’t recognize anyone. I looked down at my phone. I had a choice to make. I could either wait 10 minutes in the rain on an Uber or walk 10 blocks home.

I cancelled my car and started walking.

At first, I tried to stay under the eves of buildings. I wasn’t exactly wearing a shirt, per say, and it was cold. Then, I was over it. Trying to stay dry and warm was proving to be more difficult than I was expecting. So I switched tactics, committing to the middle of the sidewalk and staying out of puddles.

I was almost home – about two blocks away – when I passed him.

He was laying on the wet cement, covered in a tarp. He lifted his head as I passed, “You’re gettin’ wet too, huh?”

“I sure am,” I replied and smiled knowingly.

 

Lately, I have had a lot of people say things to me I’ve never heard before.

  • “You look so happy!”
  • “Looks like California is good for you. You look happy.”
  • “You just seem like you’re having a ball with life in general from what I see on here. That’s awesome.”
  • “Life in your shoes for a day would be pretty darn awesome!”

And while I am happy, and I really appreciate the sweet comments…

I hope you all keep in mind, I do still get caught in the rain.

Happiness does not automatically exempt you from having not-so-great days. Happiness doesn’t erase bad memories, hurt feelings, or past mistakes. Happiness is work and it can be exhausting. Happiness isn’t all rewards, and bursting hearts, and melty cookies.

For me, happiness has been very lonely. It has been a lot of reading, and writing, and television watching. My happiness has been tumultuous. It has been late nights, silent tears, and wishing on stars. On the other hand, it’s been so sweet too. It has been everything it looks like it is. It has been peaceful, and bright, and wonderful.

Much like yours, my happiness is ever-changing and evolving. It is not steady, or stable, or consistent from one day to the next. It is a rollercoaster – a ride with many ups and downs. And it can be as unpredictable as the weather on a Southern summer day.

But then again, I have always loved a good thunderstorm…

 

XOXO,

MC

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